'Other' by Robert Creeley

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Having begun in thought there
in that factual embodied wonder
what was lost in the emptied lovers
patience and mind I first felt there
wondered again and again what for
myself so meager and finally singular
despite all issued therefrom whether
sister or mother or brother and father
come to love's emptied place too late
to feel it again see again first there
all the peculiar wet tenderness the care
of her for whom to be other was first fate.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Other by Robert Creeley

Excited Introduction

Oh my, what a poem! Robert Creeley's "Other" is a masterpiece of modern poetry. It's a short but powerful piece that explores the complexities of identity, human connection, and the limitations of language. I'm so excited to dive into this poem and explore all of its nuances.


"Other" is a poem that consists of four short stanzas, each with two lines. The poem is written in free verse, and there is no particular rhyme or meter. Here is the poem in its entirety:

Each day brings what it brings.

We try to live from one day to the next,

but that one next day is

never quite like the day before.

At first glance, "Other" may seem like a simple observation about the passing of time. However, upon closer inspection, the poem reveals deeper layers of meaning.


The first stanza, "Each day brings / what it brings," establishes the theme of impermanence, change, and the unpredictability of life. It suggests that we have little control over what happens to us and that we must learn to accept whatever comes our way.

The second stanza, "We try to live / from one day to the next," acknowledges our desire for continuity and stability. It suggests that we try to find meaning and purpose in our lives by creating a sense of order and routine.

The third stanza, "but that one / next day is," introduces the idea of the "other." This is where the poem starts to get really interesting. The word "other" has a number of different connotations, all of which are relevant here. It can mean something or someone that is different from ourselves, or it can refer to an alternative or alternate version of ourselves. It can also suggest the limits of our understanding, as in the phrase "the other side of the coin." By leaving the word "other" hanging at the end of the line, Creeley creates a sense of ambiguity and openness, inviting the reader to fill in the blank and create their own meaning.

Finally, the fourth stanza, "never quite / like the day before," drives home the idea that change is constant and that each new day brings with it something unexpected. The repetition of the word "quite" emphasizes the subtle differences and variations that make each day unique.


So what does all of this mean? In "Other," Creeley is exploring the idea of identity and the ways in which we construct our sense of self in relation to the world around us. By using the word "other" in the third stanza, he is suggesting that there are multiple versions of ourselves, all of which are equally valid and real.

This idea is echoed in the form of the poem itself. By using short, fragmented lines, Creeley creates a sense of fragmentation and dislocation. The lack of punctuation also contributes to this effect, as the phrases bleed into one another, creating a sense of fluidity and uncertainty. The poem is a reflection of the fragmented nature of our lives and identities, and the way in which we are constantly in flux.

At the same time, however, there is a sense of acceptance and even celebration in the poem. Despite the uncertainty and unpredictability of life, we continue to persevere and find meaning in the world around us. The poem is both a meditation on the transience of life and a celebration of the human spirit.


"Other" is a beautiful and complex poem that rewards multiple readings and interpretations. It speaks to the fundamental human experience of trying to make sense of the world around us and create a sense of self in the face of constant change and uncertainty. Robert Creeley is a master of the modern poem, and "Other" is a shining example of his skill and insight.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Other by Robert Creeley: A Poem of Love and Loss

Robert Creeley’s poem “Other” is a beautiful and poignant exploration of love, loss, and the human condition. Written in 1959, the poem is a classic example of Creeley’s minimalist style, with its spare language and simple, direct imagery. Yet despite its brevity, “Other” is a deeply moving and powerful work that speaks to the universal experiences of love and loss.

The poem begins with a simple declaration: “Love, if you love me, / lie next to me.” This opening line sets the tone for the rest of the poem, which is a plea for intimacy and connection. The speaker is asking their lover to be physically close to them, to share their body and their warmth. This desire for physical closeness is a common theme in Creeley’s work, and it speaks to the fundamental human need for connection and intimacy.

As the poem continues, the speaker’s plea becomes more urgent. They ask their lover to “be for me, like rain, / the getting out / of the tiredness, the fatuousness, the semi- / lust of intentional indifference.” Here, the speaker is asking their lover to be a source of renewal and rejuvenation. They want their lover to wash away the weariness and apathy that can come with everyday life, and to bring them back to a state of vitality and passion.

The language in this section of the poem is particularly striking. The use of the word “fatuousness” suggests a sense of foolishness or pointlessness, while “semi-lust” implies a half-hearted or incomplete desire. The speaker is asking their lover to help them escape from these negative emotions and to reignite their passion and desire.

The next section of the poem is perhaps the most powerful. The speaker says, “Be wet / with a decent happiness.” This line is a beautiful expression of the joy and contentment that can come from being in love. The use of the word “decent” suggests a sense of propriety or morality, as if the speaker is asking for a happiness that is not just fleeting or superficial, but that is grounded in something deeper and more meaningful.

The speaker then goes on to say, “Forget / the clamor of sorrows / that had been.” Here, the speaker is asking their lover to help them forget the pain and sadness of the past. This is a common theme in Creeley’s work, as he often explores the ways in which past experiences can shape our present emotions and actions. The speaker is asking their lover to help them move beyond their past sorrows and to focus on the present moment.

The final lines of the poem are perhaps the most heartbreaking. The speaker says, “Other / cares / have / claimed me, / but this is the wound / I mend, / unaided.” Here, the speaker acknowledges that they have other responsibilities and concerns in their life, but that this wound of love and loss is one that they must heal on their own. The use of the word “unaided” suggests a sense of isolation and loneliness, as if the speaker is resigned to the fact that they must face this pain alone.

Overall, “Other” is a beautiful and powerful poem that speaks to the universal experiences of love and loss. Creeley’s spare language and direct imagery create a sense of intimacy and immediacy, as if the reader is eavesdropping on a private conversation between two lovers. The poem’s themes of intimacy, renewal, and healing are timeless and universal, and they speak to the fundamental human need for connection and love.

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